Singapore executes 'intellectually disabled' Malaysian man for drug offences

Lawyers and activists said Nagaenthran Dharmalingam's IQ was 69, a level recognised as an intellectual disability

A Malaysian man convicted of drug trafficking has been executed in Singapore despite his mother's claims he had an intellectual disability.

Nagaenthran Dharmalingam, 34, had been on death row for more than 10 years for trafficking 44 grams of heroin into Singapore, which has some of the world's toughest drugs laws.

His lawyers had filed multiple appeals against his execution, saying he was intellectually disabled.

His brother Navin Kumar, 22, told Reuters the execution had been carried out. He said the body would be sent back to Malaysia for a funeral in the town of Ipoh.

A Singapore court on Tuesday turned down a legal challenge put forward by Nagaenthran's mother, clearing the way for the execution by hanging.

At the end of the hearing, Nagaenthran and his family reached through a gap in a glass screen to grasp each others' hands tightly as they wept.

His cries of "ma" could be heard around the courtroom, Reuters said.

About 300 people held a candlelight vigil at a Singapore park on Monday to protest against the planned hanging.

People gather at Speakers Corner in Singapore on April 25 during a vigil for Malaysian national Nagaenthran Dharmalingam, sentenced to death for trafficking heroin into Singapore. AFP

Anti-death penalty group Reprieve called the execution a "tragic miscarriage of justice". It said it could be a "watershed moment" for opposition against the death penalty in Singapore.

A vigil was also held outside the Singapore High Commission in Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday evening appealing for clemency, with one protester carrying a placard reading "Singapore spare Nagaenthran the noose".

"We are unspeakably heartbroken at this incredible cruelty," Amnesty International Malaysia said on Twitter, calling for the fight against the death penalty to continue in his memory.

Nagaenthran's case attracted world attention, with a group of UN experts and British billionaire Richard Branson joining Malaysia's prime minister and human rights activists to urge Singapore to commute his sentence.

His lawyers and activists said Nagaenthran's IQ was found to be 69, a level recognised as an intellectual disability.

The courts determined he knew what he was doing at the time of his crime and ruled there was no admissible evidence showing any decline in his mental condition.

The Singapore government says the death penalty is a deterrent against drug trafficking and most of its citizens support capital punishment.

Updated: April 27, 2022, 11:15 AM